It matters to the small farmers and organic growers on the frontlines of our local food movement. It matters to everyone who wants access to safe, local, and sustainably-raised food. There are many state and federal policies, programs, and actions that shape our environment, communities, and family health.
Too often, the livelihood of sustainable and organic family farmers—and those of us who count on them—are under threat from policies that support farm concentration and a system of industrial agriculture.
OEFFA works to counter the special interest influence over our decision-makers, give voice to the needs of small- and mid-sized producers, and advocate for policies that are truly in the interest of the family farmers who enhance our rural communities and safeguard the environment.
The organic industry has grown to more than $40 billion per year, providing an opportunity for new and existing farmers to prosper at a sustainable scale, but only as long as organic agriculture represents the best in sustainable agriculture. OEFFA works with the National Organic Coalition to maintain and improve the integrity of organic agriculture. We have resources to help OEFFA members provide written comments to the National Organic Standards Board, which advises the National Organic Program.
The farm share of the food dollar continues to shrink every year. This makes it exceedingly difficult for farmers to survive and thrive as more money goes to processing, packaging, delivery, and marketing than to the people who grow our food in concert with nature. Often, government supports go to the people who least need it, creating incentives for industrial agriculture, which stack the deck against sustainable farmers and conservation. We have the power to change the system, one step at a time.
The farm bill is legislation that governs U.S. food and agriculture policy. OEFFA advocates for programs in the farm bill that support beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access, and remove disincentives to ecological stewardship and farm viability for small- to mid-scale farmers. We fight for these programs to continue, be funded at full capacity, and ensure they are implemented in ways that work for sustainable and organic farmers. We also work toward positive changes to improve the farm safety net, provide greater funding for organic research, and promote effective farm conservation.
More than 90 percent of the corn, soybean, cotton, sugar beets, and canola grown in this country is GE. OEFFA has worked for clear and transparent labeling of food produced using genetic engineering (GE) inputs and techniques. We’ve also stood up for organic farmers. When pollen or pesticides from these crops drift onto an organic farm, it is the organic farmer that loses. The government and biotech industry have looked the other way for decades leaving sustainable farmers bearing all of the costs and burdens that come with biotechnology. It is time to turn this unfair situation around.
In the Statehouse
There are real actions we can take at the state level to grow local food systems, increase access to land for beginning farmers, support organic agriculture, and protect water quality. OEFFA is working to educate policy-makers about the real economic, environmental, and social benefits to investing in policies and programs that support these efforts.
Farmers across the Midwest are experiencing greater extremes in weather fluctuation. Whether it is unforgiving spring rains that prevent planting, summer drought, or increased weed, pest, and disease pressure, the changing climate is having real impacts on growers. The good news is that with committed action at the state and federal levels we can limit the worst effects of climate change. Investments in soil health, conservation programs, and organic agricultural systems will help ensure farmers can adapt and be a critical part of the climate solution.
At the same time, “dirty” energy negatively impacts our climate, jeopardizes farmers’ organic certification, and affects the quality of life for our communities. OEFFA works to help farmers mitigate the damages caused by the dirty energy industry and to promote a food and agricultural system that can feed the world, sequester carbon, promote diversity and resilience, and support true sustainability through ecological farming practices.